By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Federal Government on Thursday, disclosed agriculture has reduced Nigeria’s dependence on oil sector in generating foreign exchange revenue.
This was made known by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammed Abubakar, during the launch of ‘Technical Working Documents and Debriefing of Outcomes of Socio-economic Studies’ by ICRISAT Nigeria, held in Abuja.
According to Abubakar, investment in agriculture is paying and the country has become the largest producer of rice and sorghum in Africa, second largest producer of millet.
He said: “Our investment in agriculture is paying and the country has become the largest producer of rice and sorghum in Africa, second largest producer of millet in Africa and the first in cassava and yam production globally.
“However, more needs to be done, the potentials across crops, livestock, horticulture and fisheries sub-sectors are enormous.
“The agricultural sector leads in diversifying the economy, and the oil sector is no longer dominant sector of the economy.
“Government is determined to fill the gap and consolidate on the achievements recorded and focus productivity enhancement, institutional realignment and private sector investment.
“Expectations are to deploy improved varieties and association said technology is and support agribusiness undertakings in the country.
“The expectations we have in agriculture to take Nigeria to the promise land could only be achieved when our researches are adaptive, focused to solving our challenges and needs and the entrepreneurs take deliberate actions to invest in the different agricultural value chains.
“The ministry, therefore, requires your contribution and support towards delivering in the above priorities areas, only then we will be able to address the impact of the global health emergency and the high expectation of present administration in agriculture.”
However, the Minister pointed that there are challenges negatively impacting the sector.
“We understand the key challenges bedeviling our agricultural sector include slow transition to modern farming and value addition, limited access to farming inputs, finance, extension services and markets, and lack of synergy among different actors along the value chains.
“Why is sorghum not given the kind of priority like cassava and other crops are given? The time is now to do that, so I want the Ministry to take note that sorghum is equally, in fact, a very important crop that should be given the same kind of attention too.
“The bottom-line in agriculture is research, development, collaboration, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation”, he added.
Also, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, in his speech said, “It is gratifying to note the potentials in crops, livestock and fisheries subsectors that are very enormous the prospects are to be deploying food varieties, associated technologies and support agribusiness undertakings in the country.
“The expectation we have in agriculture to take Nigeria to the Promised Land would only be achieved when our researches are adoptive, focused to solving our challenges, and the entrepreneurs take deliberately to different agricultural value chain.”
The Country Representative, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, ICRISAT, Nigeria, Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe, expressed hope that with the research findings along the sorghum, groundnut and pearl millet value chains it will go a long way to boost the sector when included in policy formulation.
“The objectives of today’s are to share seed socio-economic studies, end of year project that was implemented by ICRISAT which was funded by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, to provide evidence to be used in policy actions in the agricultural and related sectors”, he said.